TORONTO —Four years after returning to his native Canada from Asia, PR veteran Bob Pickard is returning to big agency life as managing partner of National Public Relations’ Toronto office.

Pickard will be responsible for leading the office's business and expanding its service offering. He will also oversee the Toronto operations of sister company Cohn & Wolfe.

Pickard replaces Rick Murray, who in September became managing partner of Avenir Global sister agency Shift Communications in Boston.

"Being the managing partner for National in Toronto is one of the most exciting jobs in the industry here,” Pickard said. "As a leader of one of 'the great names' in the Canadian PR industry, the operation offers an exciting team, and a profoundly and socially savvy group, doing some exciting corporate and consumer client work."

Pickard brings more than two decades of experience to the role, having held leadership positions across Asia and Canada.

Since 2016, he has run his own Toronto consultancy, Signal Leadership Communication, the focus of which was working with executives dealing with digital disruption. Pickard said he will shut down Signal, although clients will be moving with him to National.

Before that, he spent more than a decade in Asia, most recently as chairman of Huntsworth Asia-Pacific. Pickard spent 18 months at Huntsworth, which he joined after serving as Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific CEO for three years.

Before Burson, Pickard spent more than five years with Edelman in North Asia, launching the firm in Korea before overseeing the sub-region. He relocated to Asia after being one of the founding partners of Canada's Environics Communications.

"Bob is known as one of the premier PR thinkers in the area of social leadership communication. His extensive worldwide network of offline and online relationships with key opinion leaders and influencers will be of exceptional value in delivering data-driven, measurable PR strategies for our clients. We're thrilled to have him join National," said National PR president Martin Daraiche.